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Summary

The capacity of sub-yearling Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii Brandt, 1869) (19.7 ± 0.8 g) to show compensatory growth was assessed for a 40-day period for the effects of short-term starvation and refeeding on growth, feeding performance and body composition. After acclimation, 25 experimental fish were randomly distributed among twelve 500-L cylindrical fiberglass tanks with a flow-through system. The fish were subjected to four different feeding regimes: control, which was fed four times daily to apparent satiation; T1: four periods of 2 days starvation alternating with 8 days re-feeding; T2: two periods of 4 days starvation alternating with 16 days refeeding; T3: an 8 days starvation period followed by 32 days refeeding. At the end of the experiment, the deprived fish attained body weights comparable to those attained by the control fish. There were no differences in growth and feeding performances between the deprived and the control fish. Total protein and lipid contents of the control fish were significantly higher than that of T1 and T2 fish at the end of the experiment (P < 0.05). A significant difference in the energy content was observed between T2 and the control. Siberian sturgeon exhibited complete compensation, indicating a high ability of the deprived fish to grow sufficiently to fully compensate for weight loss during starvation. The results suggested that the feeding schedule involving starvation–refeeding cycles could be a promising feed management option for the culture of this species.